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Scene 4: Asgard; Thor’s [Would-Be] Coronation

[Note: There is a deleted scene before this that I consider absolutely critical, and beomoan its exclusion from the final cut. Later I will also put up scene notes for all of the deleted scenes, with links in case you should want to read them in the order I would put them in.]

I have one big plot question about this scene (which I love): Why?

Why is Thor to be made king on this day? Odin still looks pretty good. We learn later, reading between the proverbial lines, that Odin is perhaps getting old even by Asgardian standards and needs perhaps more of this special Odinsleep than normal. So I suppose we can guess he’s going to hand over the reigns early? So why isn’t Thor made king promptly upon his return from Earth? He’s “already made [Odin] proud,” right? What about all of Odin’s previous Odinsleeps? We know from the film it’s happened before, more than once. Why wasn’t Thor made king then? Why was Loki made king? (More on that later.) Of course the real “why” is the plot required it, but it would be nice to have this tightened up a bit more. One line of dialogue probably could have done it, but I guess it would be tough to avoid the “explaining-things-to-the-audience” feel. A novelization would also be nice. I volunteer, if anyone’s asking, LOL.

Going past the why, we get to the wow. The opening shot is truly awesome, in the original meaning of the word. As best I understand this is a lavish practical set combined with CGI extension, and 200 extras plus there has to be some CGI crowd in there too. The connection between real and not-real is seamless — it all looks real. And grand and epic and stunning. You really feel the scale of it. This is a real coronation.

I’ve read some criticism of the music in Thor. I don’t agree, although from a sort of marketing standpoint it probably is too bad there’s not a really hummable or duh-duh-duh-duh-able theme ala Star Wars or something. Particularly here, I think the music is great; it adds to that feeling of grand and epic, and also triumphant. IMO, 90% of the time, assuming the music isn’t supposed to be a “character” in the movie in a sense, as it sometimes is, music should not be noticed on a casual viewing by a casual viewer. It should skillfully augment whatever is going on on-screen, but in such a way that you’re crying or cheering with the characters, not thinking, “Gee, that’s really cool music.”

Aren’t the helmets great? Thor’s is cool, it’s kind of a shame we don’t see it more (such as, perhaps, when they go off to battle? isn’t that what helmets are for after all? apparently Thor’s is just for hamming it up on the walk to the throne). Odin’s is great, looks very cool how they worked the eyepatch into the helmet. And Loki’s, well, what more can be said. His is awesome, and such a part of the character. In one of the DVD extras, I think it was, Hiddleston says that that piece that comes over the brow at the nose kind of forces you to peer out from under it which automatically gives you a bit of a mischievous look — masterful.

As an aside, I wonder the crowd is supposed to be. When I say that I’m really getting back to wondering what Asgard is supposed to be. Are some of them royalty of some sort? Does Asgard have the same kind of societal structure as Earth — are there merchants and bartenders and artists and sanitation workers and government administrators and people between jobs? It isn’t that necessary to the movie to know any of that, but…there is a sort of odd emptiness to Asgard. Compare the scenes on Earth — we see a pet shop employee, a lady working at a diner, a blue-collar worker stopping in at the diner, government workers, medical workers, etc. It’s fine, you need to really concentrate on some heavy-duty dramatic relationship stuff in the Asgard scenes. But I’ve heard Asgard’s going to be more fully developed in Thor 2 — looking forward to it.

And our characters, more wow!

The Warriors Three are mostly window-dressing here (they were introduced in a deleted scene) so I’ll skip them.

Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif has one moment, where she rolls her eyes at Thor’s antics…but she’s smiling. Movies-only here, so I’m not going to interpret this as some kind of flirting. I’m going to put it along side Rene Russo/Frigga’s rolling her eyes — and smiling — at Thor. I think there is a real point to be made here. Thor probably engages in a lot of antics, and we know he’s got that arrogance/vanity/entitlement thing going on from elsewhere in the movie…but he’s also full of such a love of and exuberance for his family, his friends, and for life in general that everyone tolerates it, perhaps even finds it charming. You can imagine he’s always gotten away with everything because when he smiles and laughs afterward you can’t help but smile and laugh along with him.

So, Chris Hemsworth does a great job communicating that to us with his body language and expression as he twirls Mjolnir on his way to the throne and smiles that winsome come-on-you-know-you-love-me smile. Thor is loving this. All eyes on him and everyone clapping and loving him — the crowd is likely loving it too. They’re there for a spectacle and Thor is giving them one. I think Hemsworth is sometimes not given enough credit for his acting in Thor, probably because his character is more transparent than the enigmatic Loki. But here’s a great example of playing something that’s transparent very well — he has to put in just the right amount of hamming it up. Too little and he isn’t the Thor the movie needs him to be for his character arc, too much and you could start to question whether everyone would really put up with him…plus he would look really, really silly.

Odin…not so much! What a nice contrast between Anthony Hopkins’s Odin-the-teacher holding his little boys’ hands and Odin-the-I’m-going-to-seriously-kick-your-tail-if-you-don’t-cut-out-this-baloney sitting in full regalia on the throne and communicating oodles of disapproval…with no dialogue and only one eye, and without falling into overacting with some sneering or growling or something. I think I’ve heard this guy’s considered a decent actor.

“Thor, Odinson, my heir,” Odin begins. Cut to Loki, eyes closed, there’s a slight muscle movement seen in his jaw. I watched it frame-by-frame, his eyes were closed already from the beginning of the cut to him. What is he thinking? Is he jealous, because Thor is the heir and he is not, or is it painful for him to hear this because it rubs salt in the wound that he’ll always come in second? Is he thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening, this is crazy, Thor isn’t ready”? On this note-taking viewing it occurred to me for the first time, is he concentrating to work some magic that allows the Frost Giants in through his secret paths? I smell a poll!

Another aside…if Loki sees that Thor’s not ready (and let’s face it, he was right), why didn’t Odin? This may be a wee bit of a plot hole, but you could imagine that Odin is in denial, or perhaps just optimistic. Certainly he’s not happy with what he sees here. But he could be thinking, once he’s king, he’ll straighten up, set aside this foolishness.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is highly enigmatic here, as he would have to be — he’s up to some heavy-duty mischief here that’s also highly secret. He looks up once near the end of this scene…has he just let the Frost Giants in? Did he need to do anything actively at this point to let them in? I hadn’t thought about it before this viewing but I presume he did. He would need to control the timing of the Frost Giants’ arrival pretty closely I’d think — and he certainly didn’t look nervous in the deleted scene with Thor. So, I figure either he went to physically open whatever passageway there is in between that deleted scene and the coronation scene, or he did so “mentally”…maybe during the coronation scene.

Thoughts? (Reminder, PG comments only, please.)